Public spaces, like schools, workplaces, and gyms are frequented by a large number of people every day. These individuals unintentionally bring germs and bacteria into these areas that may cause illnesses.
Providing a clean and safe environment should be a priority for all. Leveraging high quality disinfecting products is a vital step towards accomplishing this.
The Importance of Disinfecting
Cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting all play a vital role in maintaining hygiene. While cleaning removes dirt and dust, sanitizing reduces surface bacteria levels, and disinfecting kills germs.
Disinfecting uses chemical solutions, like bleach and alcohol, to kill germs on surfaces and objects. Disinfectants must remain on the surface for a specified period (referred to as dwell) to be effective, and they need to be appropriately used to achieve desired results. A commercial cleaning solution is considered a disinfectant only if it has been EPA tested and found to kill the listed germs on the product label.
In addition to killing germs, disinfectants may also cause damage to living organisms and ecosystems when applied to the environment or body. For example, if disinfectants are used in excessive amounts, they can cause harm to living beings and the environment through overexposure or the accumulation of toxic residues.
As a business owner, especially in the fitness industry, it is essential to disinfect high-touch surfaces and objects regularly. Products like disinfecting gym wipes can be very helpful in prevent the spread of pathogens thus protecting your employees and customers from getting sick, and reduces potential liability issues. Disinfecting should be done with other hygiene practices, such as screening people entering your business or facility and reminding them to wash their hands before leaving or touching anything.
The Right Disinfectant
Disinfectants kill illness-causing germs and bacteria on surfaces that people touch frequently. Choosing the proper disinfectant for a specific business or facility can help reduce the spread of pathogens and prevent recontamination after cleaning.
The type of disinfectant required varies based on surface types and existing cleaning and disinfection procedures. For example, some facilities may need to consider the use of a sporicidal product or one that inactivates the hepatitis C virus to meet health and safety standards. Other considerations include the level of disinfection needed, contact time, and compatibility with materials and equipment.
Disinfection methods include high-level disinfection (kills all microorganisms, including spores), intermediate-level disinfection (inactivates Mycobacterium tuberculosis and most vegetative bacteria, some viruses, and some fungi), or low-level disinfection (kills most bacteria and some fungi). Depending on a facility’s needs, they can also use cleaning products with both a clean and disinfectant function – a 1-step disinfectant.
Disinfectants need to be applied properly to work effectively. Using the wrong product, applying it to dirty surfaces, or leaving it on too long can diminish its effectiveness and make a surface resistant to future contamination. To ensure the safe and effective use of disinfectants, facility teams should always read and follow the instructions on the product label. Additionally, they should only apply the recommended chemicals and use personal protective equipment as directed.
The Right Place
Everyone needs to prioritize cleanliness as we move forward from the COVID-19 pandemic. While essential steps can be taken to slow the spread of germs, such as practicing social distancing, wearing masks and face coverings, cleaning and disinfecting public spaces should also be top of mind. That includes schools and college campuses. Maintaining a clean environment is essential for both student and teacher wellbeing.
EPA-registered disinfectants can help prevent the spread of germs in public spaces, and many are available for use. When choosing a product, please read the label for more specific instructions on how to use it properly. Many disinfectants require diluting, and it is essential to do this correctly to ensure maximum efficacy.
When using a disinfectant, focus on areas and surfaces that are frequently touched or shared. This may include door handles, light switches, and shared equipment. Avoid spraying or using a disinfectant on items that do not need treatment.
During the application of disinfectants, be sure that adequate ventilation is provided. Some disinfectants are harmful if inhaled; others can cause irritability or other adverse side effects. To reduce the risk, ventilate areas during treatment by opening doors and windows using fans or HVAC settings that allow for 7-15 air changes per hour.
The Right Time
While cleaning removes contaminants and potentially weakens or damages some germ particles, it does not kill infectious germs like viruses. Disinfecting does. This process requires careful application with a disinfectant product appropriately diluted for the surface to be treated and left glistening wet for the duration indicated on the label (Iyiola et al., 2020). It is essential to understand how and when disinfectants should be used to minimize their potential toxicity to humans and the environment (Bonin et al., 2020) and to prevent indiscriminate spraying, which can result in unnecessary or untargeted exposure to disinfectants.
As with cleaning, it is recommended that disinfecting be focused on areas and objects that multiple people, such as door handles, light switches, shared equipment, etc, frequently touch. A typical cleaning and rinsing maintenance schedule is sufficient for surfaces and objects not frequently touched by multiple individuals.
It is also advisable to avoid crowded and poorly ventilated spaces as these increase the likelihood of encountering infected individuals and contaminated surfaces. Additionally, practicing respiratory hygiene is essential to help prevent the spread of airborne virus particles. Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow and disposing of waste appropriately will help prevent the spreading of germs. In addition, selecting foods and drinks prepared using a hygienic method and using public transport regularly cleaned by trusted operators are other effective ways to reduce the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.